Showing posts from 2016

That Time Of Year

As tends to happen over the Christmas period, the opportunity for solid training become restricted. With the joys of working over the festivities, the kids at home and all the catch ups, get-togethers, so on and so on, there is only so much time in each day. The priorities are for family so the training takes a back seat. I've learnt the hard in the past that planning to train at my normal load just doesn't work.

This year I took a better mindset. It was simple. Take about a week off training. That meant if I could fit in a run then I would, but everything else took priority. Funny enough it made everything so much more enjoyable. The couple of small runs I threw in were slow, slow, slow, but felt oh so good. Then everything else a mix of food, catch ups, food, work, family and more food.

It was a nice reprieve from training, but from a running point of view I'm now back. A long run of 39km helped solidify that statement for me.

Week of Earlies

Who organisers a roster where you have a week of 06:00 starts? It probably wouldn't be as bad if I wasn't used to forward rotating shift work. That said, there are plenty of benefits to my shift work. Just when you get to the least best part you wish you were in the better part of the roster. The week of earlies makes training a bit different compared to when I'm on my normal rotations.

A bonus of this week is I get to spend the late afternoon and evening with the family. The difficulty is balancing training and sleep. The decision to be made is between an early morning session or a session at night after the kids go to bed. I've experimented with both options and the winner is running in the early morning. That means up and 04:00, drive to work, run 30-45 minutes, then shower and change and its time to start the my shift. This tends to add up to a little bit more sleep over the week than if I run late, plus I just feel better at work if I get the run in first.

This we…

Train Like A...

After some good training, then some not-so-good training it is time kick it up a notch. Whenever I feel I am either ready or need too ramp things up I have a re-read of the Ultra168 article Train Like A Mother. I've referenced this article before for good reason. The layout of the training in it doesn't match what suits me, but I like the concepts it raises. My summary... train hard, train very hard and make sure you recover to train some more.

This week has been the start of ramping it up. As usual the plans change on the fly. It went a little something like this...

Monday: 9kmEasy. While the pace wasn't hard, a lot of concentration is put into technique. There is a slight exaggeration put into some aspects of my running form to help override the body's laziness that leads to problems over time. The level of concentration is the most exhausting element.

Tuesday: 90minMP80%. After a warm up the target pace translates to 4:48/km for 90 minutes. I kind of think of this a…

Breath In, Try To Breath Out

The training plan looked good. The actual training not so good. Turns out my hayfever has been taken advantage of by the hangover from the recent Thunderstorm Asthma. Trouble breathing isn't something to treat lightly. As a result, the harder and longer runs have been skipped while I get this sorted for myself. A bit of prevention and a back up in case and I think I'm back on track.

In the midst of reduced training I also think I backed out of some runs just because I had an excuse. Strangely with less running I also felt like I had less time for things. Maybe I'm just better organised when I'm trying to fit more in. It is a bit of a reminder that if I really want to put in some good training during the silly season, then I have to plan ahead and make sure I get all the other stuff needed to be done ticked off efficiently.

The big goal is still the Wilsons Promontory 100km in May next year. It is still a fair way off so some extra motivation is needed along the way. Ag…

Racing The Limits

Getting older can change your views on things. I've definitely questioned why I compete in ultra distance races. Mainly when I'm into a long run that isn't feeling good and I wonder why I'm not a sprinter. Do I just keep running because that's what I've always done or am known for? Is there really more to it? It has been clear that I haven't got the genetics for the elite world stage. However, I am definitely built to run. So what is it that keeps me training and racing? I know my reasons have changed and evolved over time, but I'll skip the retrospective introspection. Right now I love exploring my limits. This could be done in so many ways, but running is the medium that feels right. Running adds to my life. It is important to note a change in my thinking compared to my younger years. I used to think that sacrifice was a highly important ingredient to get the most out of myself in sport. Now at the end of my 30's and with a family, I don't be…

Closer To The Plan

I almost hit all my training targets. The last week and a little bit has been the closest I have gotten in a long time. Which probably doesn't reflect too highly on how I have planned and executed my training over that long time. Typically I put in writing what I believe is the maximum I should do, but maybe that's just a cop out. What was missed? A couple of easy runs were downgraded to regeneration as the legs did need a little more recovery. For the most part that covered almost what I needed. It got me through a good 84km week nearly unscathed. Just one little problem.This week was meant to start with some hill repetitions but I woke to some stiffness and pain in one of my hamstring tendons. Given my past history and the glute pain last week, I took the safe option and skipped the run the day. Slotting back into the program the next day for a regeneration run seemed to have done the trick.Looking over the last couple of weeks it suggests the riskiest sessions are the longer…

Paper Versus Body

Never quite a straight forward plan. Never quite an easily repeatable format. The life of rotational shift work keeps me somewhat removed from normality. It's probably a combination of good and bad. It certainly guarantees one week won't match the next. It means planning training has a mixture of calendars and rosters spread out and eventually combined back into one.

In planning I fill out the non-running commitments I have and then work out how the running fits around them. Then over a four week block I put in detailed workouts, for the four weeks after that there is a general outline. Beyond those 8 weeks nothing is really written down as I know it will change substantially anyway.

The upcoming 4 week block has the detail I need. Length of sessions, pace goals, time goals, type of intervals, terrain type etc. Of course that detail usually is in my own training short hand, and is kind of stuttered sentence. Sometimes one word covers everything I need about a session. Now I ha…

Long Starts At Two Hours

Two weeks of recovery and I'm in much better condition than I thought I would be. Despite a blow out in the 100km race, I came away injury free and healthy. I kept all my running easy to very, very easy since and looks like I've had my most consistent bout of training in a long time. Slightly ironic for a recovery period.

It's set me up to be in a position to take a lot of fitness gains from the race itself. I've still raced a 100km over tough terrain recently so there will be some carry over issues for the next few weeks. Some smarts will be required on the training front if I'm to continue making gains. The body needs to be pushed to get fitter, but pushing too hard can break. The weeks after a big race it is easier to push too hard, but more difficult to see it before it happens.

Today was my start back to training. The next big goal isn't until May next year at the Wilson's Promontory 100km, but with a cohort of intermediate goals I'm not looking to…


Even after many years in endurance sports I still have a lot to learn. That's part of the appeal. Last week's Great Ocean Walk 100km served up plenty of lessons. As the ability to move like a normal person has returned I look back on the event and see what I can use to improve.

The best thing I learnt is I can push myself harder than I knew. My mind can be strong and I have the ability to override a lot of my body's defence mechanisms. This can be a double edged sword, and I hope I do temper it with enough wisdom not to do any harm. I believe I can take away an improved ability to get more out of myself in select moments.

It is the muscles and connective tissue that seems to be the most susceptible to fail. While there are plenty of other potential weak points, the muscles can just stop doing what you require of them. Smashing the legs early by going out too fast or running in a style that creates big eccentric loads is a good way to disrupt the muscles. I rediscovered thi…

Great Ocean Walk 100km 2016

The Great Ocean Walk 100km (GOW100) chewed me up and spat me out. I went into this race deliberately low on training kilometres to ensure I arrived at the start healthy. I wondered if I was under done, but better than being over done. I believed I had done my due diligence and had a good idea on what the course was like. I went in with the plan to respect the distance and course. Turns out I was way off. This is how the day unfolded.

Start Apollo Bay to CP1 Blanket Bay 0-20km
In contrast the the lead up weather we were lucky to have mild conditions with some slight winds. A rarity in the area. First light reached as we assembled around the starting anchor. I made sure I could hear Andy give his final pre-race words. Inadvertently this put me at the front of field as everyone else assembled behind. The countdown began and no one moved forward. I'd commented to my family that I wouldn't go out crazy fast like I've seen others do.
Cruising over the grass, across the road …

GOW100 Taper

About two weeks of taper for me, some may say three. The lack of definition is because I really haven't been doing big kilometres, so there isn't a significant change in my training. Instead, the running has gradually morphed into being more race specific while ensuring I am not breaking my body down. The specific training is slower than almost all my other runs. It has included carbohydrate depleted runs, plenty of power hiking, hill techniques (finding a comfortable way not to blow myself up on the early climbs) and down hill tolerance. It all adds up to some fairly slow kilometres in the training log.

I've spent most of this time feeling like I haven't done enough. Which might be the case, but I have made sure I erred on the conservative side so as not to aggravate older injury issues. I feel like that has been achieved. The question is have I trained to the level I need to achieve my goals?

Only race day will answer that. I have a few goals tabled out for the race.…

Race Simulations

I took the weekend for some race simulation two weeks out from the GOW100. How do you simulate a 100km trail race? The obvious answer would be to run a whole lot of kilometres over similar trails at around race pace. However, I didn't quite take that approach. I didn't think it was going to give me quite what I needed, and based on my training this year had too big a risk of leaving me flat for the real race. I didn't want to grind my body right down, but I needed to create ways to replicate some aspects to know how my body would respond and train the mind. Acclimation versus acclimatisation.

The simulation involved two days worth of work. On the first I day I went with the concept of condensing 12 or so hours into 3 hours 45 minutes. For gear and I wore my race kit, packed the race pack with all the mandatory gear (including the adverse weather kit) and used my race nutrition. I kept the opening pace at the same effort level I planned for race day and turns out my paces w…

Took A Break

After 9 years of blogging I lost some interest in it. As a result I haven't put up a post since the start of July. Doesn't mean I haven't been running. In fact, I've been pretty happy with my running lately. Coming into the final weeks of preparation for the Great Ocean Walk 100km (GOW100) has sparked my interest into putting a few more words back out onto the net.

Training over the last couple of months has been reasonable. I've definitely missed a lot more sessions than I planned, but in the mix have been quite a few good runs. I was getting pretty nervous as the clock ticked down to the GOW100. Luckily I had a confidence boost a couple of weeks ago. Taking part in a relay team at the Surfcoast Century 100km was given the 3rd leg, 28km kilometres of hills in the Otways. I ran well and impressed myself with how quickly I was able to move through some of the rougher sections. It had me feeling like I might actually be on track for the GOW100.

Only a couple of weeks…

First Lump Of Training Done

The month of June has ended, and with it comes an arbitrary line in the training diary. This was the first out of four months of preparation for the GOW100. The aim here was just to set the pattern of training and cover the time frames of the main sessions. I erred on the side of keeping the pace on the slower side of everything. The stimulus was meant to come from the increase in volume and the day after day of running. If my body could absorb this, then I could attach some actual pace goals to my training.

Did it go to plan?

Almost, is the short answer.

The longer version is...

...the first week of June didn't count as I was still on holidays. For the remainder of the month I covered 300km. During this time my Garmin FR220 decided to stop working. Which turned out to be a pretty good thing for the month. I used the Strava app on some select runs, a stop watch when at the track, and for the rest of my runs I just looked at the clock at home when I left and returned from my runs. …

Back Into It - GOW100 Training

It's been a bit of time since my last post. So it's now worth an update.
The first two weeks crossing over from May to June definitely went as planned. The time was spent in Bali in pools, on the beach, with great food and plenty of Bintangs and cocktails. There were even a few runs mixed in, but not much. Sun and hot weather eventually gave way to a return home to winter.

Off the plane on Sunday, early to bed to catch up on the sleep lost on the over night flight, and back to reality on Monday morning. A slow and stiff pre-dawn run in the cold before work. This first week was a simple ease into it. Which was take one-and-a-half days between the first three runs, which were all 8-10km and very easy. That had the legs feeling normal.

Then came the long run. With the view I am preparing for a 100km race I feel an urgency to push up the kilometres, both in individual runs and overall. Just bashing out extended distances has too high a risk of bringing back some injury. So I need …

Training Begins Sunday

Running this year has brought a good amount of success. I haven't been setting any personal bests so far. Instead, I have had some good training, I am as over any injury as I'll ever be and I have had some races that I am very happy with. That excitement I use to get from running has come returned. Amazing how that happens once my base fitness reaches a certain level. That level is when you go out for a solid run and it actually is relaxing, plus the legs find it easy to run.
This is where I hoped to be by this time of the year after I suffered through the Two Bays Trail 56km in January. I'm not in my early twenties any more and my body doesn't let me get away with just training hard over and over until just before race day. Getting close to forty and the therapeutic region for training has narrowed. Since January I have made a concerted effort to learn how my body now responds, adapts and what causes problems. It has been interesting.
There are two key elements the ne…

King & Queen of the North - 12km 2016

Having a Sunday morning off work means I had to find a race to do. It was good to see one of the Coburg Harrier's fun runs was on offer. So the King and Queen of the North 12km it was. I always enjoy these events. Low key and a simple focus on get the basics spot on.

Earlier in the week I had less than great running, and a few days off. However, I definitely filled up the remainder of the week with plenty of kilometres. So the legs took a little extra time to feel ready through the warm up. By the time the starter's gun was fired I was feeling pretty good.

The course is two out-and-back laps, with a bit of a hill on each that you get to climb from both sides. The remainder is fairly flat with some claiming the undulations take more out of you than you think. Maybe they do if you compare to the athletics track. Not much wind today, just enough to make you feel like it is slowing down even though it probably isn't. A cool but sunny morning, almost perfect.

With a pattern of …

Running My Life

I wish I had time to exercise.

So many people have said that me over the years. I don't find the time. I make the time. Importantly, making the time isn't at the expense of other important aspects of my life. It is part of my life. My structure won't apply to everyone, but hopefully it can give others ideas on how they fit exercise into their life. There may be a few things for the shift workers out there too.

I assume my life is like many people who have a family. Having a wife, 2 kids, some pets and working full time goes alongside the extras that come up in life. Importantly, running shouldn't take away from family. This is key a consideration as I am a shift worker on variable rotating shifts. This means at times I have to sleep during the day, work some nights and plenty of weekends. This already means I miss some weekend time with the kids, so I'm not missing the other time I have available.

The biggest impact shift work has on me is that it takes me out of t…

Great Train Race 2016

A spectacular thunderstorm had me awake through 3am before this race. I did wonder if I was going to be running in it. The storm moved on and I was able to get back to sleep. A couple of fallen trees on the streets were a reminder of the night, but it was otherwise a relaxing drive out to the hills with my mate Dazzler for the Great Train Race. We got there extra early and were able to kick back and relax and catch up with some others before the day got under way. Looks like the weather was being quite friendly for the race. A bit chilly, but in a good way for running.

Lucky to be seeded in the front group gave me a somewhat smooth opening once the whistle sounded. Straight into a downhill I made sure I went out fast. This is quite a unique race. It's 13.5km of hills which by themselves create quite a challenge to pacing. Then throw in the fact you are racing against a steam train with four rail crossings that if you are caught at will suck out time as you wait for the train to pa…

The Next Big Thing

My running seems to be back on track. Some good training, some good racing and a lack of the problems that put an upper limit on what I could do over the last couple of years. Importantly, most of my runs just feel good. It's all natural again. Finally time to plan the next big event.

I think an 100km run fits the category of big. So that's what I've chosen. Throwing in enough time to prepare, sprinkling over some leave from work and an event that just makes me really, really want to race it. There's one that fits the bill quite nicely. That would be The Great Ocean Walk 100km.

The GOW100 has been on my radar for a few years. It was nearly my first 100km back in 2012, but I ended up choosing the Surfcoast Century instead. So why the GOW100?

It's an iconic race. It is grassroots and gets the basics right. Those basics are exceptional. The race covers the Great Ocean Walk trail from Apollo Bay to Port Campbell. This is definitely one of the most amazing and scenic pl…

Emergency Services Half Marathon 2016

Another longish drive out to Ballarat for another go at the Victorian Police and Emergency Services Games Half Marathon. As usual I found amusement in watching the temperature gauge in the car drop the further I got from home and the closer I got to the race. As an added bonus the wind was a strong and icy southerly. A little extra cold just for fun. I wore gloves for this one.

The half marathon is an initial 3.1km out-and-back kind of loop followed by three full laps of 6km around Lake Wendouree on the Steve Moneghetti Track. This is dead flat, has a bit of bitumen, but is mostly loose gravel. Looks quick on paper, but the gravel tends to suck just a little bit out of each toe off. It is a simple course and I quite enjoy it. This year the wind was up and looked like it was going to play a role.

At the start I only spotted one person I knew to be worried about, Clarkey. We've gone back and forth against each over the years. He commented that there's always someone extra fast h…

Emergency Services 10km Cross Country 2016

That time of year has come around again. Time for the Victorian Emergency Services Games. A chance to mix it up with the other services (because we can be a weird bunch), forget about work, have some fun, friendly and if wanted, some fierce competition. First event for me was the 10km cross country.

My fitness seemed reasonable going in. Originally I had planned to train through the race, but the week turned out to be an inadvertent taper. A lot of training was missed for a few reasons. The main one being sleep. Fifteen and fourteen hour back to back nights took their toll on me this time. So I turned up expecting to feel pretty fresh. Instead my legs felt quite flat and heavy, at least until the gun sounded. Then my legs just kicked straight into race mode.
There were some course changes this year. More country and less bike path, some extra hill and a bit less flat. I liked the difference. The field had plenty of new faces and missing some of the regulars so I had no idea how the ra…